The 3 Global Hubs of Innovation to Inspire Your Own



Co-creation in action. 

Culture: ‘Jugaad’ is the Indian concept of an innovative fix and reflective of a wider resourceful, ingenious and frugal approach to innovation in India. Home to a wealth of hackers and tinkerers with limited resources, innovation in India is a way of life focused on solving immediate issues through the most resourceful solution. A no frills approach Jugaad keeps a relentless eye on the usage of a product removing all unnecessary features to produce cheap, effective solutions.

Examples of Jugaad innovation include MittiCool a refrigeration unit created by an Indian entrepreneur. Made from local clay it retails cheaply, is entirely biodegradable and reportedly keeps food tasting better for longer by not drying it out. Innovative, effective and locally relevant.

The Tata Nano is a car stripped down to its bare essentials and as a result retails for around $2000 bringing it within reach of consumers who otherwise could not afford one. Many innovations were patented in its development as its makers relentlessly cut costs associated with production. However the issues with Jugaad are highlighted in the car’s low safety rating.

The Takeaway

Creating systems that draw ideas from the periphery to the top of the organisation is essential. As is opening the potential for collaboration between teams and the chance to contribute ideas across business functions.

In the global, volatile and highly competitive marketplace; cash-lite, highly focused and consumer-centric product innovations can provide consistent advantage.

These themes are common to the western approach of ‘Lean Development’ where relentless focus on the user need and trimming of unnecessary fluff is lauded. Businesses are encouraged to use the wealth of ‘big data’ available to them to rapidly refine small iterations that add value. This constant improvement ensures innovation success is proven and refined. 

3. Africa: Purpose Driven Innovation

The charity mantra ‘teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’ still applies to some areas of Africa but new technological frontiers demand a new maxim.

Teach a man to code and he can develop bespoke solutions for the needs of his entire nation.

Perhaps not as catchy.

50% of the African population is under 20, and smartphones outsell PCs 4:1. This youthful and early adopting population are unsurprisingly turning their talents to tech. Amazingly the most searched term online in Kenya and Nigeria is ‘Entrepreneurship’.

The global rise of hacker culture – in the positive developer community sense – has bloomed in Africa with hacker spaces, tech hubs and meetups spreading across the continent. These communities are developing pioneering and effective solutions to local problems creating new businesses and improving their environs at every turn.

Global businesses and progressive aid organisations are ploughing money into these facilities seeing the future of the continent and its economy sprouting from the education, support and collaboration present in these tech hubs. A recent BBC feature highlighted the potential, “we recognise that the best solutions to Africa’s challenges will come from the communities which are affected by them. This turns the traditional model of development on its head.”

Bosun Tijani founder of Nigerian co-creation hub emphasizes the need to team these skills with those who understand the issues at hand “the best way (to do that) is to put them with people who understand those real problems; that’s our raison d’être.”

An example of this power is iCow an app to inform farmers of the market price of milk, best practice in immunisation, milking schedule and breeding advice via SMS. Driving these efficiencies and education arm Africa for its rising population and is also a potential revenue stream.

A core tenet of innovation is thinking beyond existing practices, hindrances and infrastructure for a new alternative. Locations without legacy issues to deal with can innovate – unhindered – from the outset. This is what we see in startups and increasingly in emerging markets.

Africa is the perfect stewing pot for these new innovations. Hacking together new solutions to the unique constraints of its markets have seen revolutions in models of banking like M-Pesa – the often touted mobile payments provider – that have not been encumbered by dated infrastructure or existing bureaucracy.

M-Pesa is a good example to explore; the unique conditions of the Kenyan market created a perfect climate for this innovation which many anticipated would sweep other nations. For the most part this has not occurred as the demands and potential of Kenya were uniquely suited to exploit this trend.

The Takeaway

Businesses must bring together their makers with those individuals who really understand the issues they face. Be it employees on the frontline of the issues with a product or customers, rejectors and tinkerers outside the organisation. Teaming them with engineers, designers or developers leads to the most productive innovation.

It is also key to focus this activity on organisation specific solutions. Sense Worldwide’s business is based on surfacing and communicating insights that can lead businesses to these innovations but the hard work must happen internally.

Do not bind thinking to legacy systems and practices and create innovation unique to the businesses culture, needs and direction for greatest effect.

Businesses from Coca Cola and Unilever to Spotify and Kraft are inviting the hacker community into their businesses through Hack Days. Facebook and Tesco host them internally. These furious pursuits of rapid innovation generate fantastic new ideas with little cost and galvanise the entire organisation to co-create new solutions.

If you would like to talk to us about generating innovation for your firm email

comments powered by Disqus